Sensitive brier

  • Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttallii
  • Devil's shoestrings, Mimosa


Brood coverFood
Stems trail along the ground and are covered with short, hooked barbs

Stems trail along the ground and are covered with short, hooked barbs.

©Ted Bodner, USDA-NRCS Plants Database


Leaves fold up when touched

Flower heads are bright fuchsia spheres, tipped with yellow stamens. The common name of this plant comes from the tendency of the leaves to fold up when touched.

©Don Kurz


Even the seedpods of this plant are covered with short bristles.

Matt Seek, Missouri Department of Conservation


Seeds are about 3 mm long, brown and somewhat rounded.

Steve Hurst, USDA-NRCS Plants Database


This trailing legume of dry prairies, glades and rocky savannas has a distinctive appearance. The prostrate stems are covered with hooked barbs. Doubly compound, featherlike leaves close rapidly when touched or disturbed. Flower clusters are just as distinctive, a fuchsia ball dotted with contrasting yellow stamens. Like the stems, seedpods are covered with barbs, but when opened reveal many seeds about 1/8 inch across.

Bloom period

May to September

Use by bobwhites

A legume, sensitive brier is used by bobwhites as a food source and as a component of brood habitat. Quail nests have been found in and under sensitive brier, where it may afford better protection from predators than plants without the sharp thorns.